Saturday, April 29, 2006

Just Generally Overexcited

Well, other than general overexcitement, I have completely failed to identify a unifying theme to link all of the major elements of the past week's shenanigans, which included:

1. One tip-top super Iron & Wine/Calexico gig at the Kentish Town Forum, at which the mighty nibus and I had to pretend to be from Radio 2 (we weren't very good at this, and kept getting in the wrong queue), and which thanks to our swanky guest list status we were allowed to view from a distant and muggy vantage point somewhere at the back, near the ceiling. I'm still not totally convinced about Calexico's new album, but All Systems Red, which gradually builds up into a mighty wall of guitar noise, is almost Sigur Rós-ishly awesome live. Nice work, Calexico boys!

2. One tip-top super Jenny Lewis gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, which was only slightly marred by her creepy 70s-horror-film-style dress and the fact that I had inadvertently got tickets for a distant and muggy vantage point somewhere at the back, near the ceiling. But the lovely Jenny has a gorgeous voice and some spankingly good songs, *and* she can rhyme 'mirrors' with 'fears', which is a skill sadly denied to us Brits. Nice work, Jenny!

3. One tip-top super lunch that was attended by ACTUAL REAL TELEVISION AND FILM STARS. I got terribly overexcited and started shouting things like "perspicacity!" and "it's grown a hive mind - it's producing its own thoughts!", which didn't work quite as well as conversational gambits as I'd hoped. Luckily my lovely companions (most of whom I think I also offered jobs to, like some kind of diminutive, scruffy-haired, one-woman press gang) made up for this by steering the conversation towards sensible things like football and Shakespeare. Nice work, lovely companions!

4. A meeting with my tutor, who professed my tortuous 5,000-word essay to be "rather excellent", and asked if I'd thought about doing a PhD, at which point I got ridiculously overexcited again and started rattling on about virtual gift economies, the decommercialisation of culture, and similar claptrap. Nice work, future pop-culture academic patroclus!

5. The Modernism exhibition at the V&A, which for anyone considering going, is not only very, very, very well put together, but is also stuffed full of (possibly unintentionally) comical items and captions. The captions are always my favourite thing about any art exhibition, and I often find myself reading them without even looking at the actual artworks on display. Today's favourite (relating to this building) was:
[Bruno] Taut believed that glass could orchestrate human emotions and contribute to the creation of a spiritual Utopia.
Apparently Modernism was all about achieving universal human happiness by getting everyone to live in buildings that look like upside-down daleks, wear felt suits decorated with brightly coloured chevrons, and sit on columns of air. Sadly it largely failed in these ambitions, but you have to admire them for trying. Nice work, ultimately unsuccessful proponents of the modernist aesthetic!

6. Nutso amounts of work, which only served to contribute further to this week's general ridiculous levels of stress and overexcitement. Nice work, work!

Ahem. I think I'll just slink off now, take a couple of valium* and lie down till I regain some semblance of composure. Nice work, prescription barbiturates**!


* Not really - Bach Rescue Remedy is as far as I venture into the world of narcotics these days.

** Or, more accurately, 'Nice work, prescription benzodiazepines!'- thanks to Dr Snackspot, renowned comestibles specialist, for the correction. I knew I should have looked that up.


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48 comments:

cello said...

A consistency of refrain of which Edgar Allen Poe himself would be proud.

I already think of you as Dr Patroclus PhD anyway, but if you must go through the motions...

Yes, and what lovely companions all round we have. But I think your other readers might appreciate a few more clues.

patroclus said...

True - I'm always very reluctant to name names in case the name-ees don't want to be, er, named. Might do some editing later, though.

Lovely to see you as ever, though, cello, and many thanks for the gifts!

poppy said...

what an exciting week; i am insanely jealous (still)! the only interesting thing i learnt this week was how to disconnect our propagandistic plasma tv. so in comparison, completely pointless.

Tim Footman said...

Glad the V&A exhib is good, by most reports. I'll be in London in June and it's on my list (along with the Hayward surrealism gig).

When it opened, every review seemed to be accompanied by an interview with Terence Conran, and I was rather worried it was going to be nothing but crockery and pouffes.

Dave again said...

Ooooh. Isn't your life full of big words. You sophisticated London lot do live in a different universe to us country bumpkins, don't you?

patroclus said...

Poppy: it was such a shame you couldn't come - next time! But nice work (must stop saying that) on disconnecting the TV. Power to the people! Ahem.

Tim: I could have written endless, dull reams about the Modernism exhibition. You should definitely go and see it - it's truly brilliant, and not a pouffe in sight. Those crazy Modernists had some very strange ideas about how people should live, which are excellently caricatured in Decline and Fall (Part Two, Chapter One) and I think also in Vile Bodies, but I'll have to check that one.

Dave: I do have quite a tiresome fondness for big words. Sorry about that.

Dr Snackspot said...

Not to nitpick, but I think Valium is technically a benzodiazepine rather than a barbiturate per se. (Good job it was metaphorical, eh?)

patroclus said...

Ahh, come in Dr Snackspot, I've been expecting you. And nitpicking is welcome, nay, positively encouraged around these parts. Factual accuracy was never my forte, which is why it's a good thing I never made it into journalism. Post duly updated!

smoo2 said...

Let's hope you have a quieter week next week. We don't want you to have to spend a lot of time lying down in a darkened room, do we?
Well, it's probably impossible to have another week that reaches the heights of the last one.
Anyway, I'm with poppy, still a bit green round the edges.

belladona said...

Squee! Thank you very much indeed - rather gutted to have missed boxes but considering friday I think I'll bear the disappointment. T'was lovely to see people and other people and so on... and a special thank you to cello for the loveliness and gifts. It all made me very happy indeed (if a bit reminiscent of a toddler who's raided the haribo).

DavetheF said...

Don't apologise for the big words. Corrctly used, they provide brighter illumination to our discourse, provided your readers are cognisant of them. Just look how Shakespeare ran a giant mixing desk of words!

DavetheF said...

Oh, great! CORRECTLY, I meant. *Flushes and slinks into corner*.

Tim Footman said...

Is it VB that's got the mad professor and the Ferris Wheel? Pretty damn modernist.

Interpreter Pavlov said...

Eo-modernism? Otto Silenus in D and F, surely, and then his antithesis with Mrs Beaver in A H of D. EW rarely put a foot wrong with his names.

PhD? Go to it, asap. The current level of doctorates really does need jacking up. You're just the person to do it.

patroclus said...

Dave F: Love that 'giant mixing desk of words'. Shamefully I know next to nothing about Shakespeare, but he did have a pretty awesome way with words, eh? Even your favourite bit from Hamlet/Withnail & I has some top-drawer stuff - 'sterile promontory', 'fretted with golden fire' etc. Nice work, the bard!

IP: spot on as ever. I was indeed thinking of Mrs Beaver's flat in A Handful of Dust. And if I do a PhD (oo, get me) it will have something to do with how we all Live Inside A Machine Now, which is just the sort of thing Otto Silenus and his cohorts had in mind. Only without the chevron suits and fascistic overtones, forunately.

Tim: That could be it too. Modernism must be the easiest aesthetic movement ever to lampoon, because of its special combination of craziness and humourlessness. It's all the rage in London at the moment, seemingly - Tabby Rabbit and I noticed they were having some sort of Modernist disco last night at the Moholy-Nagy exhibition at the Tate Modern, and the latest issue of Elle Decoration has a front cover story: 'Modernism Made Easy - What To Buy, Who To Know, Where To Go'.

In your face, post-modernism!

DavetheF said...

Patro, I was so impressed with your undying passion for Calexico (of whom I had not heard before) that I asked for some at my local CD merchant. The tall black-clad skinny git behind the counter checked it out on the computer and looked at me incredulously: "The last time we had any was two years ago!" he said, making it clear this was beyond the pale. "It says here it's DANCE," he added, giving me an even more dubious appraisal.

"Yeah, I think it's a bit dance and some rock, salsa and so on," I said, trying desperately to recall what I had gleaned from your reviews. But he had lost interest, and had put his headphones back on.

I am so over.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Wow. I can echo the "nutso amounts of work" but then fall way behind on the general getting out and doing stuff front (especially cool Jenny Lewis and Hollywood party stuff). So we'll add a Scroobious shade of green to the rather fetching and vernal backdrop to this post. Go you on the PhD ambitions! ...And a special thank you for the big words. They please me.

patroclus said...

Dave: You aren't 'over' at all - you're just going to the wrong shops! I'll make you a couple of CDs if you're still planning to meet up with some (metaphorical) Norf London bloggers later this month - let me know! Oo, and Calexico aren't dance - it's sort of indie rock with Mexican mariachi, desert-country, jazz, waltz and dub elements. They've gone a bit rubbish now, though.

Scroob: It was a bit of an exceptional week - all I have to look forward now is nutso amounts of work. And the odd Spoon + New Pornographers and Howe Gelb gigs, of course. Er, I might grow up one day.

patroclus said...

Err, obviously I'm aware that the waltz *is* a dance, but not necessarily one you'd hear played in Turnmills of a Friday night.

cello said...

The relative absence of 3/4 time is one of the facts Mr C cites for what he would call the 'deadening predictability' of popular beat combos. I think it's something akin to not finding much coriander or foie gras at McDonalds.

Mind you, they seemed to find enough popular 3/4 time for the waltzes in 'Strictly Come Dancing' last autumn.

First Nations said...

i just wanna see the damned modernism exhibition.
someone send me a round trip ticket.
i shall hold my breath until someone sends me a ticket.
i'm holding my breath now.
...
...
...

Interpreter Pavlov said...

Comparative absence of 3/4 time? Deep waters here, worthy of a PhD thesis. (Maybe Mr C. should really be Dr C.?)The reasons are more social than strictly musical, especially considering that the 1960s-present day is historically unique in its almost complete dearth of music in 3/4 time. It's to do with sex, social interaction, control . . . I could go on but I expect you've got work to do.

patroclus said...

Cello, I know shamefully little about such things, but I'm guessing that 3/4 is waltz time, in which case I could direct Mr C not just to Calexico's 'Sunken Waltz', but also to the late, lovely Elliott Smith's 'Xo' album, which features not ONE but TWO waltzes, imaginatively titled 'Waltz #1' and 'Waltz #2'.

Bet they didn't play any of them on Strictly Come Dancing, though.

patroclus said...

Oo, and IP, I believe I'm right in saying that Mr C *is* in fact an eminent musicologist. You'd have lots to talk about!

cello said...

IP, I do have work to do, but if you will go dangling sex, social interaction and control I may have no option but to respond.

I am really interested in the relationship between music and poetic metre and delivered a rather patchy thesis at uni comparing the music of Weelkes, Byrd, Gibbons etc with various Elizabethan poets. But I read English and my musical knowledge at that stage was a bit weak. Mr C. had yet to appear in my life. We could do the topic justice now as a pair, if only we didn't have to go to Legoland and such.

Patroclus, I can say with confidence that Calexico featured hardly at all in 'Strictly Come Dancing'. I can now only recall 'Moon River' as an example of the 3/4 time pieces they did use.

Interpreter Pavlov said...

P: Please excuse C. and me while we have a private natter.

C: Legoland? I thought you were going to the Bahamas to read improving books. Very interested to hear about the madrigalists - there's a corner of a foreign field here in France where they're flourishing every Thursday night - and I'd be fascinated to hear what the main thrust of your student thesis was, esp. T.Weelkes. But I'm treading on P's toes.

patroclus said...

Lord no, don't mind me. It's great when the commenters chat among themselves. I think you'll get along very well, in any case!

DavetheF said...

Patro, it would be great if you could burn me a couple assuming I don't find one at the very large disc emporium in one of our swish malls. You are quite right about the shop I went to -- the paucity of its stock is pathetic and nobody does the filing, so the discs are all over the place. I am still coming to L -- arrive Friday next week, but staying in Hotel. *Must e-mail Pash and Patro*.

belladona said...

This was very interesting! I've wondered myself at the lack of 3/4 time. Is there a particular reason for it? Please talk more so later I can appear to be well-informed to someone else (and I shall fish out my XO too).

patroclus said...

Dave: got your email, will respond shortly! If you *do* go searching for Calexico in a more organised music emporium, remember to get The Black Light, Hot Rail or Feast of Wire, and NOT the latest opus, Garden Ruin.

Bella: I have to plead total ignorance on the subject of musical time signatures (er, if that's even what they're called), but between them I reckon Cello, Mr Cello and Interpreter Pavlov can come up with an excellent theory as to why there's no 3/4 time any more. On the other hand, I bet that Nibus can come up with hundreds of instances of 3/4 time appearing in the popular music canon.

Oo, I love it when blog conversations go off at a tangent like this.

surly girl said...

whereas it just makes me feel a bit dim.

*sighs*

frangelita said...

3/4 time is generally used in chordal rather than contrapuntal music, and is not restricted to waltzes - although all waltzes are in 3/4 time. A lot of modern music is in common or 4/4 time, or cut common 2/2 time. It's a simpler rhythm. Of course, every now and again you get some little ditty in 6/8, generally something a bit jiggy.

My music teacher made me do theory of music when I was about 14.
Oh yeah, poofs or pouffes at the V&A? Cos surely poofs would only improve the event.

patroclus said...

Blimey Frangelita, top knowledge there. I seem to remember Nibus recently coming up with a list of modern-day artistes who have been known to favour three-time, including Sigur Ros, Modest Mouse and Spoon, but I wouldn't have a clue, myself.

I don't *think* I saw any poofs at the V&A, although one did phone up during the visit. Mind you, I wasn't particularly on the lookout for them. I was somewhat distracted by a screening of a piece of Modernist theatre that was very accurately caricatured in that episode of Spaced where they go to see Vulva's play. Nice work there, Simon Pegg!

nibus said...

Ah, there's a lot of 3/4 about. Further examples include Jimi Hendrix (Manic Depression), Bob Dylan (Mr Bojangles), Mr Cave (Rock of Gibraltar), Spiritualized (Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space), Unchained Melody, REM (Daysleeper), Bright Eyes (Sunrise, Sunset)...er, Phil Collins, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Don Henley, the Beatles, Dolly Parton, Grateful Dead...and so on. So, not rare at all then.

patroclus said...

Ahh, Spiritualized and Celine Dion...together at last!

Interpreter Pavlov said...

Nibus: An unsullied well of pure information, as always. We've had the elements of this conversazione before, but it's good to see it amplified. 3/4 is still unusual, reserved for more philosophical or poetic utterances, would you say?

Frangelita: You must have had a reasonably switched-on music teacher - quite right not to associate 3/4 time exclusively with the waltz. On the other hand the waltz is very much more chordal than contrapuntal, but there's no end of wonderfully contrapuntal/polyphonic music in 3/4 with no particular rhythmic or dance qualitied. It's curious that the waltz started off in Bavaria/Upper Austria as a raw, raunchy, in-your-face dance, condemned as untouchably licentious by those bourgeois whose children and grandchildren would later take it over, genteelize it, sentimentalize it and finally institutionalize it into something inseparable from the general late 19th - early 20th century Western culture. It's still just alive, if that's the word, with people like kitsch frog André Rieux and his girly band in floaty chiffon dresses. (Maybe he hasn't hit the UK yet. If he does, run for it.)It's partly in reaction to this that 2/4 and 4/4 have established themselves so firmly. There are other reasons, more deeply sociological, that I may come to when I've had coffee and fixed the exhaust on my car.

P: Thanks for enabling this. A perfect blog hostess.

patroclus said...

>>3/4 is still unusual, reserved for more philosophical or poetic utterances, would you say?<<

Celine Dion, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams...philosophical and poetic utterances?

And 'Rock of Gibraltar' is probably the boy Cave's worst song, lyrically speaking, so it could be that 3/4 time is used in a feeble attempt to mask lyrical inferiority.

Yes - you can rely on me for half-baked and ill-informed theories about things I know nothing about.

nibus said...

IP: 3/4 is very popular in C&W, coupled with such philosophical and poetic song titles such as I Would Have Wrote You A Letter, But I Couldn't Spell Yuck and I'm So Miserable Without You, It's Like Having You Here.

cello said...

Nibus: didn't mean to imply that there was no 3/4 time in late 20th/21st century popular music. I'm sure there are thousands of examples. I was trying to make a point about the *ratio* of it to the rest which really is at a very low figure compared to other eras.

If you listen to an hour of Radio 1 or watch Top of the Pops as I sometimes have to do, it's very easy to hear not one single 3/4 track.

IP: Patroclus is being very hospitable and putting a brave face on, but my guess is she really would rather we didn't go on any more. My basic hypothesis was about the iamb - being the most common metric unit in Elizabethan poetry (Wyatt, Campion, Marlowe, Sydney etc)- representing simple 3/4 time with an anacrusis at the beginning of a line. But that it was also liberally interspersed with other metres, particularly in the final couplets of sonnets, producing different rhythms. And this was mirrored in Elizabethan composers who would produce cross-rhythms, without changing time signatures eg producing 6 x 2/4 bars out of the written 4 x 3/4 bars.

Maybe we can meet one day and continue the talk, and even sing a bit of Weelkes together. My madrigal group only meets once a month, so I'm relatively deprived.

Oh, everyone has disappeared...

patroclus said...

Please do carry on, this is all great stuff. I'm well out of my depth with Weelkes and iambs and madrigals and whatnot, but don't let that stop you.

In the meantime, if anyone's got any more comedy C&W song titles, they're always good entertainment.

occasional poster of comments said...

How about Did I Shave My Legs for This?, or You're The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly.

All this musical/literary theory is way over my head, but when it comes to comedy C&W songtitles... well, I know exactly two.

With you on Rock of Gibraltar, btw. Although, I seem to remember Mr Cave getting a little miffed when a local radio presenter suggested he was perhaps not being entirely serious...

*checks BBC website*

... yep, here it is, about 20 questions into the interview.

nibus said...

Cello: I didn't think that was what you were implying - and fair play to you if you can endure an hour of either Radio 1 or TOTP. No madrigals and anacruses there, I should imagine - a total silence of the iambs.

*gets coat*

patroclus said...

Ahh, OPC, long time no see. Thanks for that interview. Didn't Nick (get me, first name terms, etc.) say something very witty and entertaining, and which I've completely forgotten, at the Cambridge gig about how all the press hated 'Rock of Gibraltar' but he thought it was great?

occasional poster of comments said...

You're right, he did. Can't quite remember it either, though. Although I do remember the live version being more listenable, dodgy lyrics aside.

And as for using first name terms, why shouldn't you? After all, another week like that and you might have to start styling yourself Patroclus, Friend of the Stars :)

occasional poster of comments said...

Actually, make that Dr Patroclus, Friend of the Stars. Much better

patroclus said...

Haha, I sound like a character from an old Bunty comic. Excellent. This week, Dr Patroclus, Friend of the Stars, helps Rula Lenska find the shoe she lost under the 94 bus at Bedford Park.

Interpreter Pavlov said...

Cello: By all means. Every Thursday night, 8.30. Madrigals, sophisticated musicological chatter (Little Iamb, who made thee? Discuss).

P: Sorry for this unwarrantable trespass. That's it for now. We'll carry on behind the bike sheds.

patroclus said...

iamb tomorrow, then, IP?